Manufacturers support efforts to achieve normal trade relations with Cuba and to share with the Cuban people the values that make, and keep, America exceptional: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity. While today’s announcement will add some hurdles for Americans interested in trade and travel to Cuba, manufacturers appreciate the president’s acknowledgment that our commercial and diplomatic engagement can support the ambitions of the Cuban people. We look forward to expanding investment and opportunity in Cuba.
Isolating the Cuban people has not yielded a new day for freedom and democracy in the island nation just miles from our shores. But eased restrictions on travel to Cuba and U.S. manufacturing exports to the Cuban private sector has made it simpler for Americans to engage with Cuban citizens, as it did when a group of National Association of Manufacturers leaders traveled to Cuba recently, and to support the growth of private enterprise in Cuba. We saw, in even a short time, the potential for normalized diplomatic relations not only to create economic benefits in both nations but also to bring freedom and democracy to Cuba and its people.
Most important in the near term is the strategic value of rapprochement with Cuba, to counter the growing influence of China and Russia in the region. During our visit, for example, a Russian oil tanker with 249,000 barrels of refined product arrived in Cuba for the first time this century. It brought back memories of when the Soviet Union supplied all of the communist country’s needs. Instead of allowing the hand of friendship to come from communist governments and those with a different set of values, we can demonstrate the strength of democratic values and the free market system through a robust trading partnership.
We look forward to the day, as much as anyone, when the Castro regime ends. But ultimately real change will only happen when the Cuban people can take charge of their own destinies and entrepreneurs can create their own opportunities.